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NHL Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin Becoming a One-Man Show for Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

So far this season, the Washington Capitals’ superstar captain Alex Ovechkin is playing as well as he did at the end of the last season. The problem is he’s the only Capital playing like that.

Ovechkin was phenomenal during the Caps’ rush to a Southeast Division title last term, ending up with a league leading 32 goals and taking MVP honors. He already has six goals from the first seven games of the new campaign, but unlike last season, the rest of the team isn’t following in his footsteps.

The Capitals (2-5-0) are dysfunctional at the moment. They played their worst game in a long time against a subpar New York Rangers club on Wednesday night. The poor performances this year stem from a team lacking in chemistry—an ensemble cast that has forgotten its lines and is allowing a lead actor to emerge and carry the show.

Only Mikhail Grabovski has recorded more than one goal—getting three on opening night against the Chicago Blackhawks. After him, there is a severe lack of shots, let alone scoring of goals.

Ovechkin has an astonishing 50 shots under his belt so far this term. That accounts for close to 25 percent of the entire team’s shot count. Additionally, almost 80 percent of shots from the Caps’ top line (Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson) have come from Ovi’s stick. That statistic is mind-boggling. Johansson has only three shots in seven games—amazingly low for a player on a top line.

It’s hard to fathom where the Caps would currently be sitting if Ovechkin had started poorly out of the gates. A good guess would be that they’d have zero wins and a worse goal differential. He’s become a one-man show in Washington, and teams don’t win Stanley Cups under such circumstances. They don’t even make the playoffs.

Head coach Adam Oates had an NHL season and full training camp under his belt on October 1 when this year’s campaign began. The feeling in D.C. was that those facts would result in a ‘ready for prime time’ Capitals team that would take the new Metropolitan Division by storm. It didn’t happen.

There are a few significant changes needed for the Capitals to breathe new life into their season, but let’s focus on one. Someone other than Ovechkin needs to start scoring or at least putting the puck on net.

The Caps need another top-six forward to start performing—and soon. One other option is for Oates to gamble a little on his lines and move some guys around. However, that’s something he’s been reluctant to do so far.

Ultimately, Ovechkin needs a strike partner. He’s had them in past seasons (Alexander Semin and Mike Ribeiro), and one needs to materialize now.

G.J. Cosker is a Washington Capitals writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.